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Mexican Tycoon Carlos Slim's Telcel Erases Mobile Borders Between The U.S. and Mexico

AUG 3, 2015 @ 10:25 AM 

Dolia Estevez


I cover Mexico's billionaires, politics and U.S.-Mexico relations

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

In the never-ending mobile phone wars among telecom giants, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s Telcel was forced by competitors to “eliminate” the Mexico-U.S. border and allow mobile users to call from Mexico to the U.S. and vice versa for just a small charge.

Telcel, Mexico’s dominant wireless telephone company, is a unit of Slim-controlled América Móvil

It said July 16 that under the plan “Telcel Sin Frontera” (Telcel Without Border), mobile users can call and text to the U.S. without paying long distance charges, and when they travel to the U.S. they will be able to use their minutes, messages and MBs just as they would in Mexico, with no roaming charges.

Telcel charges a monthly service fee of 50 Mexican pesos (around US$3) for the  “Telcel Sin Frontera”  plan which subscribers can activate in Mexico or the U.S.

Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim (Photo credit: YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

“We are eliminating the border between Mexico and the U.S. In terms of communications, it will be one region,” Daniel Hajj, America Móvil’s CEO and Slim’s son-in-law said.

Telcel expects millions to use the new plan. The U.S. is home to the largest population of Mexican descent and Mexican immigrants in the world after Mexico. 

América Móvil’s announcement was made one day after T-Mobile introduced ”Mobile Without Borders,” a new plan that allows subscribers to call and text not only to and from Mexico, but also to and from Canada.

 Mobile Without Borders” became available on July 15.

AT&T T +0.00% Viva Mexico” also offers AT&T’s subscribers no long distance or roaming charges for calls between the U.S. and Mexico for additional $5 per month.

Due to its increasing purchasing power, the Latino population has become an attractive market for mobile companies. According to Mexico’s Federal Telecommunications Institute, in the last quarter of 2014, 97% of all long-distance calls to and from Mexico were with the U.S.

As of 2013, Mexican-Americans made up 10.9% of the U.S. population with 34.6 million Americans listed as being of full or partial Mexican ancestry, comprising 64.1% of all Latinos in the U.S., the U.S. Census Bureau reported.

These numbers do not include undocumented immigrants who, along with family members left behind in Mexico, account for the most frequent callers. Of the 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S., nearly 6 million are Mexicans, the Pew Research Center data shows.

Telcel said that “Telcel Sin Frontera” will make it easier for these large communities to communicate across a border that the company says its mobile service has now “disappeared.”

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